Montauk, an over-friendly Harbor Seal who, after undergoing recurring rehabilitation due to human interaction was flown aboard a private plane (Daher TBM) Friday to his new permanent home in Virginia. As he arrived at KORF Signature Flight Support at Norfolk International Airport, a second plane landed, carrying a distinguished passenger Governor Ralph Northam, who could not resist meeting his newest resident. After an incredibly warm welcome, Montauk made his way to the Virginia Aquarium, his new permanent home.
Montauk's story is a harrowing tale of the dangers involving human interaction and its impacts on wildlife. Montauk was rescued a total of three times in his short life and spent his rehabilitation time being cared for at National Marine Life Center (NMLC).
Montauk, a young harbor seal, never lasted in the wild very long as he was unable to thrive on his own and fell victim to human interaction. His first rescue was due to direct interaction when a well-meaning citizen collected him out of the water, trying to help Montauk. His second rescue was due to people getting too close, trying to take photos, and letting their dogs go near him, and even more devastating, it was reported that someone kicked him. The third time he was released, Montauk chose a very populated area to rest along a boardwalk, allowing him to be exposed to humans and dogs again. He did not thrive in the wild, which caused him to lose weight. After nine days of monitoring, Montauk was discovered to have become entangled, yet another form of human interaction. A triple hook fishing lure with no monofilament attached was removed from his right rear flipper, where one tine had penetrated through the flipper webbing. A second triple hook was on the lure but did not hook the flipper.
National Marine Life Center worked with NOAA Fisheries to find Montauk a permanent home and the Virginia Aquarium in Norfolk, VA agreed to provide him sanctuary. That’s when Turtles Fly Too is contacted, as we provide general aviation emergency transport, and our Turtle Flier Richard, from Solo / Briggs & Riley Travelware, divisions of United States Luggage LLC was happy to give Montauk a ride aboard his Daher TBM, along with one of the staff of NMLC, who ensured his comfort during the flight.
We hear that Montauk is doing well, becoming acclimated to his new environment and everyone at the Virginia Aquarium has already been captivated by his charms.